Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Restrictions on fetal tissue research could undermine efforts to combat Zika virus

Politico (May 27, 2016): Slew of anti-abortion laws may thwart Zika research, by Brett Norman:

Research to prevent the spread of the Zika and the birth defects associated with it may be stymied by new state laws prohibiting or restricting fetal tissue research.  On Friday, Florida passed anti-abortion legislation that includes a prohibition on donating aborted tissue.  Five states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio and Indiana have gone further,  banning research on aborted fetal tissue and Arizona is expected to pass a similar prohibition.  Florida lawmakers have been criticized because Florida is one of the states at greatest risk to be affected by Zika given the state's proximity to areas affected by the virus. 

Fetal tissue research was important for research to develop vaccines for other diseases such as rubella, chickenpox, rabies and hepatitis A.  Because Zika has been linked with birth defects, research on fetal tissue is important to help scientists understand how the virus disrupts fetal development and develop possible treatment. 

Robert Golden, dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, helped fight off an effort to ban fetal tissue research that had gained traction in his state last fall. He said politicians who would obstruct the work but take advantage of the benefits are hypocrites.
“With the horrors of the Zika virus and its almost certain spread to Florida, to me it’s unfathomable that anyone there would want to restrict this research,” Golden said.

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